The Un-Checklist,  a list of what not to bring

Hiker Boxes Record Our Mistakes

Hiker boxes are repositories of gear mistakes and regrets. Ideas don't pan out. Gear doesn't perform as hoped. Failures get dumped in hiker boxes.

We've rummaged through hundreds of hiker boxes over the years, and we've found many of the same things over and over again. Things like blue jeans, rolls of duct tape, and aluminum water bottles are so ubiquitous, especially toward the start of major trails, we decided it was a good idea to create a list of common items that hikers bring with them, only to quickly discover their mistake.


aluminum water bottles

nice alternative to plastic bottles while at the gym, but too heavy for the trail

Nalgene bottles

surprisingly heavy considering they're just plastic

2lb peanut butter jars

you save money when buying in bulk, but you don't save your knees and back from strain

big jar of Gatorade powder

Gatorade is mostly sugar and food coloring so replace electrolytes with a lighter alternative like Propel

fuel cans greater than 4oz

needlessly heavy, especially considering how little money is saved by buying larger cans

plates & cups

eat from your cooking pot and drink from your water bottle

skillet / frying pan

you can make everything you need in a single pot



who are you trying to impress?

shaving cream

if shaving while in town, just use soap


the shampoo provided at hotels is sufficient

metal shovel

that plastic orange trowel may look dinky, but it gets the job done - you don't need an entrenching tool



not only does cotton kill but jeans are heavy & uncomfortable to hike in

leather, snake-proof gaiters

you are hiking a well-defined trail, not bushwhacking like a hunter or archaeologist

cotton clothes for town & camp

yes, cotton is comfortable and familiar, but you will get used to your synthetic clothes


bug spray in a metal container

while most bug spray is sold in aluminum spray cans you can find small plastic bottles


headlamps are more practical and lighter

headlamps sold at auto parts store

these are huge and heavy, like flashlights

blue tarps

the blue polyethylene tarps at hardware stores are impossibly heavy compared to a silnylon or Tyvek tarp

large carabiners

you won't be supporting your own weight with one so you don't need 'em to be big or steel

entire roll of tape

duct tape & electrical tape can be handy, but you don't need entire rolls

PVC vinyl dry bags

they don't keep gear any drier than silnylon bags, and they're much heavier

rope / parachute chord

thin nylon line is all you need for a bear bag line

Luxury Items

more than one paperback book

bounce the second book ahead


is a small computer really more useful than a smart phone and worth the extra weight?

Tools & Weapons

saws & hatchets

cutting and chopping wood violates Leave No Trace and besides, it's unnecessary


you are walking an established trail, not bushwhacking through a South American jungle

knife with a blade longer than 2 inches

big Rambo knives are useful only in the wildly improbable circumstance that you are in a survival situation with literally no other gear


if it's not self-evident, we probably can't convince you otherwise